Lapid slams Poland’s ‘antisemitic threats,’ casts Warsaw as ‘anti-democratic’

Foreign minister hits back at Polish PM as officials in both countries continue war of words over new Holocaust restitution law

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slammed criticism of Israel by Poland’s prime minister and its Foreign Ministry on Sunday, lambasting the comments as “antisemitic threats,” the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between Israel and Poland over a new Holocaust restitution law passed by Warsaw.

“The negative impact on our ties began the moment that Poland chose to begin passing laws aimed at harming the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish people in 2018,” said Lapid in a statement on Sunday evening. “Gone are the days when Poles harmed Jews without consequence. Today, Jews have a proud and strong country of their own. We do not fear antisemitic threats, and have no intention of turning a blind eye to the shameful conduct of the anti-democratic Polish government.”

Polish officials said earlier Sunday that Jerusalem’s outrage over Warsaw’s passage of a law that effectively bars Jewish heirs to Nazi-looted property from reclaiming it was “unfounded” and harms bilateral relations.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday rejected accusations of antisemitism from Israel over the law.

“Israel’s decision to lower the rank of the diplomatic representation in Warsaw is groundless and irresponsible, and the words of Yair Lapid… raise the outrage of every honest person,” he said in a Facebook post.

“No one who knows the truth about the Holocaust and the suffering of Poland during World War II can agree to such a way of conducting politics,” Morawiecki argued. “Using this tragedy for the needs of partisan interests is shameful and irresponsible.”

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, on May 24, 2021. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP, File)

“If the Israeli government continues to attack Poland in this way, it will have a very negative impact on our relations – both bilateral and those in the international arena,” the prime minister warned.

Israel’s move would “increase hatred toward Poland and Poles,” Morawiecki said and added that the children of Poland’s ambassador to Israel were being brought back to Poland.

Jakub Kumoch, a political adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda, told Polish media that Lapid’s response was “hysterical and against all diplomatic norms,” Walla news reported.

Kumoch further said that he hopes Israel will cool off and rethink the situation, according to the report.

In response to the passing of the law over the weekend, Israel recalled its charge d’affaires from Poland and told the Polish envoy to the Jewish state, currently vacationing in Poland, to not bother coming back.

Earlier Sunday, the Polish Foreign Ministry denounced the downgrading in ties signified by Israel recalling its charge d’affaires and said it would reciprocate.

Thousands of Polish nationalists march to the US embassy in Warsaw, Poland, on May 11, 2019, to protest US pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

However, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat told Channel 12 that the ministry response was “a yellow card for Poland after its shameful decision.”

“This story is absolutely not about money,” Hayat stressed. “It’s about memory and responsibility.”

The law sets a 30-year time limit on challenges to property confiscations, which would mean that pending proceedings involving Communist-era property confiscations would be discontinued and dismissed. It affects Polish, Jewish, and other property claims that are subject to contested previous determinations.

Some three million Polish Jews, 90 percent of the country’s Jewish community, were killed during World War II in Poland.

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